What is it?

This is the less powerful of the two 1.6-litre four-cylinder diesel versions of the latest Volkswagen Polo, with 74bhp and 144lb ft of torque. It’s the most frugal Polo available until the 1.2-litre three-cylinder BlueMotion version arrives. With a combined fuel economy figure of 65.7mpg and a CO2 output of 112g/km, the Polo 1.6 TDI is on a par with the Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi, making it one of the most fuel-efficient cars in its class.

What’s it like?

As we discovered during our original drive in late May, the latest Polo is very much a downsized Golf. It looks like a Mk6 Golf both inside and out (though its exterior styling is quite bland) and it moves the game on in terms of perceived quality, ride comfort and isolation from wind and road noise in this class; in many ways it really does feel like a much bigger, more expensive car.

However, the 1.6-litre diesel engine doesn’t suit the Polo especially well. In such an otherwise quiet and smooth environment the engine sounds and feels startlingly gruff, only becoming less intrusive at a steady cruise.

Work the five-speed manual gearbox a bit and the Polo is brisk enough, but like many small diesel engines it’s got a massive hole in its power delivery if it’s caught off boost at low revs, which makes it frustrating to drive around town.

We can’t help but think that one of the small petrol engines - especially the forthcoming 1.2 TSI turbo unit we sampled at the launch in Sardinia in May - would be much more in keeping with the Polo’s refined character, even more so when attached to a DSG gearbox.

Compared with the Fiesta’s funky cabin, the Polo’s seems very grown-up and conservative, to the point of being dull. The dashboard, steering wheel and other controls all reek of quality, but look around the rest of the cabin and it’s very plain and unexciting. There’s really nothing wrong with it, but it’s a far cry from the bold look of the Fiesta.

Should I buy one?

There’s a lot to like about the latest Polo, from the quality of its interior to its supple ride and refinement, and the diesel engine is impressively frugal, but we suspect the Polo isn’t being shown in its best light with such a gruff powerplant under the bonnet.

A smoother, quieter petrol engine would no doubt suit the Polo’s grown-up character much better.

But the Polo’s biggest obstacle is still the Fiesta, which in diesel form is just as economical (slightly more so, in fact) while being far more rewarding to drive and more interesting to look at. The Polo may be a downsized Golf, but it could be too mature for its own good.

Allan Muir

Join the debate

Comments
48

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

I'm surprised that this new engine appears so unrefined. I was expecting a big improvement over the 1.9 which it replaces in higher outputs.

As for the Fiesta interior being more interesting, well yes it is but I know which I'd rather have day to day over say a 3 year period and it's the Polo. The styling of the Fiestas dash will wear thin soon enough and you are then left with an average quality interior which by some accounts is already proving troublesome.

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

Lee23404 wrote:
I'm surprised that this new engine appears so unrefined. I was expecting a big improvement over the 1.9 which it replaces in higher outputs.

The new 1.6 TDI CR comes in 3 forms, 74bhp in this polo. A faster 90bhp version and the 105 version in the Golf. I recentley was on a mk6 Golf blog and read that the new 1.6 TDI in 105 form is very good.

I beleive the reason autocar say it is gruff and unrefinded is becasue the test car is brand new, and just arrived on our shores. it usual takes a new TDI around 1000 - 2000 miles for it to start performing at its best, it may be even more in some cases.

Its strange that I am still waiting for my Golf !!!!! with the 1.6 TDI 105, but should be ready by next week (praying hard that I am right)

Lee23404 wrote:
As for the Fiesta interior being more interesting, well yes it is but I know which I'd rather have day to day over say a 3 year period and it's the Polo. The styling of the Fiestas dash will wear thin soon enough and you are then left with an average quality interior which by some accounts is already proving troublesome.

the polo might not be as funcky but has more class, and will stand the test of time better then the fiesta. Which has a horrible plastic interior btw

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

Why this obsession with the Fiesta? The external styling will date faster than a prawn sandwich on a hot day, and the interior is hideous, unless you are under 16 and still think Star Wars toys are cool. The Polo may be conservataive, but speaking as an adult I wouldn't be seen dead in a Fiesta.

As to diesel gruffness, I am bored with the antispetic tone of modern small petrol engines, and prefer the voice of the 3 cylinder TDi in my Audi A2. It actually has a bit of character, reminds me of my old Harley.

I am not convinced by your assesment, and will form my own judgement when the car is available to us mortals.

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

McJohn wrote:
Why this obsession with the Fiesta? The external styling will date faster than a prawn sandwich on a hot day, and the interior is hideous, unless you are under 16 and still think Star Wars toys are cool. The Polo may be conservataive, but speaking as an adult I wouldn't be seen dead in a Fiesta.

I keep seeing a Golf when I look at the pictures. Conservative, yes. Derivative, yes.

I can understand what you mean about the Fiesta, it isn't really my cup of tea either, but the Polo is just too boring for its own good!

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

Agree with much of the above. Diesel engines, especially VAG ones, can take 10k before they start to give of their best in terms of speed, mpg, noise. You don't jump into a brand new diesel car and start scribbling The Definitive Verdict on How Noisy/Quiet This New Diesel Car Is. Give it some time. Snap conclusions are annoying. Most VW models age well; most Fords don't.

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

Agreed the Fiesta is a very good car but what is the point of cloning the Fiesta, surely then you would just have a Fiesta? VW have always been quite conservative with styling but they do this because it is what works for them, there isn't anything else which has such a solid, quality, 'German' feeling and overstyled cars like the Fiesta, Corsa, 207 etc tend to date much more quickly.

It will be interesting to drive the 1.6 TDI in a couple of weeks when I go on product training because it is fantastic in the Golf albeit in 105ps guise.

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

Slightly impractical when you're scribbling for a magazine claiming to be 'first for car news and reviews'. I think journalists can be forgiven for passing judgement on a new car - and magazines do after all run 'long term tests' to see what the car is like to live with.

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

1.2 TSI is the engine to go for.

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

very mature design which will still look good in years to come. as opposed to the ridiculously over-styled and over-designed fiesta. honestly, how anyone can relish this cheesy ford design is a complete mystery to me.

Re: Volkswagen Polo 1.6 TDI

4 years 34 weeks ago

The Fiesta may look good now, but in a few years time it wont. Commenting as an ex-Fiesta driver and a current VW driver both the Fiesta and the Polo have their own place in the market. If you want contemporary styling and sharp handling, buy a Fiesta. If you want comfort, high quality construction and classic, timeless design then choose a Polo.

Magazines such as Autocar and Auto Express are obsessed with sporty handling and that's why they always seem to favour Ford and BMW products over anything else, regardless of any other flaws. Living in a country where we have so many problems with congestion and potholes, is sportiness so much more important than comfort and quality?

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Our Verdict

Volkswagen Polo

The fifth-generation Volkswagen Polo has junior Golf looks, but is that enough?

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